Spring is finally here!
Not only is the weather getting warmer and the days getting longer but we are starting to get our first butterfly records in.
In Jersey, we have a scheme for recording butterflies named Jersey Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, that has volunteers walking the same site weekly from April to October counting and identifying butterflies. Butterfly counting is not as easy as it sounds. In the height of summer some vegetation such as buddleia can have up to 20+ different individuals on it. Around Jersey there are specific butterfly transects that are hotspots for butterflies, these are walked by the volunteers and their records are collected to help us keep track of their numbers.
In Jersey, we have 36 species of butterflies, a mix of common and rare species. Species such as Peacock, red admiral and orange tip have very district markings.
Whereas Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper all look very similar to an untrained eye.
With 36 species in Jersey, butterflies are the perfect place to start if you want to learn to identify insects. There are loads of guides available to help you identify them, but just remember that Jersey has a unique species mix.
In 2016 from the Jersey Butterfly Monitoring Scheme we had 13,542 counts across 29 species.
Species that weren’t spotted for various reason are: Swallowtail, Pale Clouded Yellow and Marbled White. Swallowtails haven’t been sighted on Jersey since 2011 and it’s decline is probably due to a reduction in its food plant.
Butterflies in Jersey need our help! With an increased pressure on housing and food production many areas where butterflies live are being developed, which is starting to separate populations across the island. With the populations fragmented and isolated then if a population starts to decline there is not another population close enough to re-populate it.
There is a lot that we can do to help butterflies in Jersey. You can leave areas of your garden untouched or less managed or even add a wildflower mix to your grass or borders. The best way to encourage butterflies in your garden is to plant butterfly-friendly plants such as buddleia. lavender, nettles and ivy. The life cycle of butterflies is dependant on plants which they use for laying their eggs on, feedings and pupating so this year try and make your garden butterfly friendly.
It’s too late to join the Jersey Butterfly Monitoring Scheme volunteers this year but we still need your help with looking in your garden or telling us what you’ve seen on a walk out. Please let us know if you spot a butterfly by sending us your record here: http://jerseybiodiversitycentre.org.je/submit-a-record/
If you would to take part in the scheme next year or want to know more about butterflies in Jersey, click here.
Written by Sarah Maguire, Education and Outreach Officer 29/03/17